Finn gave me the same formal nod he’d given my father. I had to struggle not to laugh. I wondered if there was a bodyguard stereotype he didn’t fit. I mirrored the nod, and if Finn had a clue I was mocking him, it didn’t show.
Dad sat back down, though Finn remained on his feet at high alert.
“I have some business to take care of this afternoon,” Dad told me, and I realized I didn’t even know what he did for a living. He went on before I had a chance to ask. “Finn will take good care of you while I’m gone and will escort you home when you’re through.” He opened up his wallet and pulled out a generous handful of euros. “I figured you might want to do some shopping while you’re in the neighborhood. I believe you Americans call it ‘retail therapy.’”
That made me chuckle. Yeah, some retail therapy might be just what the doctor ordered. Though I’d never been shopping with a big, hulking goon in dark sunglasses looming over my shoulder before. It ought to be … interesting.
I took the money Dad was handing me, then gasped when I saw it was five hundred euros. I guess when you’re in the big leagues like my dad, you don’t worry too much about having your pocket picked. I opened my mouth to protest that it was way too much money, but he interrupted me before I could.
“I’ve missed sixteen years worth of birthday and Christmas presents,” he said. “I think I’m entitled to spoil you now that I finally have the chance.”
I still didn’t want to take his money. I mean, that was more cash than I’d ever seen in my life. Between the constant moving and the frequent drunken absences, my mom had never been too good at holding a job. We always had enough to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, but rarely had any more.
I swallowed my protest and stuffed the handful of bills into the pocket on my leg, which I then made sure was tightly buttoned. “Thanks,” I said. “That’s very generous of you.” My paranoia started jumping up and down and saying, “He’s trying to buy your affections!” Ugh. I really hate being so suspicious.
We shared another warm father-daughter handshake before Dad went off to work and left me with Finn the goon, who so far hadn’t given any indication that he could speak. That might make it easier for me to just pretend he wasn’t there, that I was just off on a fun shopping jaunt all by myself.
Turned out that shopping with Goliath always looking over my shoulder wasn’t as much fun as I’d expected. Not that I’d really believed I could pretend he wasn’t there, but I hadn’t realized how edgy the constant scrutiny would make me. Not to mention that he made the store staff nervous, hovering there looking intimidating.
“Any chance you could give me a little breathing room?” I asked him as we left a silversmith’s store. I’d have loved to have taken more time looking at the jewelry, but Finn had made the shopkeeper so visibly nervous I decided the only decent thing to do was get out.
Finn shook his head.
I frowned up at him. “Do you talk?” Maybe that was on the blunt side, but I was getting tired of his strong, silent-type act.
One corner of his mouth twitched, like he was suppressing a smile. “Only when necessary,” he answered. He had the deep, rumbling voice that went with his size. He was nowhere near as big as Lachlan, but he was still one of the biggest Fae I’d ever seen. At least, I was assuming he was Fae. A human bodyguard wouldn’t have done me much good against Fae kidnappers and their magic.
“I find it necessary for you to explain why you have to stand this close all the time.”
He lowered his glasses so I could see his striking, emerald-green eyes with their distinctive Fae tilt. Those eyes were like a secret weapon, so gorgeous I felt my own eyes widening in surprise. Then he cracked a smile, and my breath caught in my throat. He’d give Ethan a run for his money in the oh-my-God-you’re-gorgeous arena.
“I have to be close enough to put myself between you and harm, if necessary,” he said. The smile disappeared, and he pushed the glasses back into place, transforming himself once more from stud-muffin to Secret Service Man. Apparently, that was the end of our conversation.
To tell you the truth, I was kind of glad he’d put the glasses back up, or I might have tripped over my own feet staring. It’s not like I’d never seen a good-looking guy before, but let’s face it, the Fae take good-looking to a whole new level.
I kept wandering, but I hadn’t bought anything yet. Then I saw one of the few chain stores that had a foothold in Avalon: Victoria’s Secret. Cruel creature that I am, I couldn’t resist going in, wondering how Finn would react.
Of course, he didn’t. React, that is. He just followed me around as usual, the sunglasses firmly in place. Even with his eyes hidden and his I’m-a-scary-dude vibe, I caught one of the sales girls checking out the rear view. It made me smile.
I headed for the panties that were on sale—I could buy a bra, but it would be little more than window dressing on my pathetically flat chest. Hoping to make Finn squirm, I held up a pair of black thong panties, checking the price tag while I kept watch on him out of the corner of my eye. Still nothing. Guess he wasn’t that easy to embarrass. I, on the other hand, was probably blushing like crazy. This plan had definitely backfired.
Not wanting Finn to know that I’d been browsing just to annoy him, I bought the thong, as well as some more practical underwear. You can never have too much underwear. Especially when you hate doing laundry. I then handed the bag to Finn for him to carry. He hesitated for a second, and I swear I could feel those laser-beam eyes on me even through the dark glasses. I blinked up at him innocently, enjoying the evidence that I’d cracked his composure. He regained it real fast, though, taking the bag from me without comment. I wished I had a camera, because he looked pretty funny carrying a Victoria’s Secret bag while trying to maintain his dignified, bad-ass goon look.